It’s incorrect to call them ‘Koala bears’ because they are not bears at all. They are marsupials.
After venturing out of the pouch, the joey rides on its mother’s abdomen or back, although it continues to return to her pouch for milk until it is too big to fit inside. The joey leaves its mother’s home range between 1 and 3 years old, depending on when the mother has her next joey.
A mature male has a dark scent gland in the centre of his white chest which exudes a dark, sticky substance. He rubs this on his trees to indicate to other Koalas that this is his territory.
An adult Koala eats about half a kilogram to one kilogram of leaves each night, depending on many factors, including the size and sex of the koala and where the Koala lives.
A forest can only have a certain number of Koalas living in it. This is called the forest’s ‘carrying capacity’. Like pasture for sheep, the available gumtrees can only feed a certain number of Koalas.
Koalas have an unusual fibre-digesting organ called a caecum. Other mammals, including humans, also have a caecum, but the Koala’s is very long. It contains millions of bacteria which break down the fibre into substances which are easier to absorb. Even so, the Koala is still only able to absorb 25 per cent of fibre eaten, hence their need to eat large amounts of leaves.
Habitat loss is the greatest problem facing koalas. The main reasons for this are land clearing, bushfires and diseases of the eucalypts, like ‘dieback’ which cause the trees to die.
Although koalas themselves are protected by law, around eighty percent of any remaining habitat occurs on privately owned land and almost none of that is protected by legislation.
Australia has one of the highest land clearing rates in the world. 80% of Koala habitat has already disappeared.
The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there are likely to be less than 80,000 Koalas remaining in Australia today and it could be as low as 43, 000. Much of their habitat has already been lost. This makes it vitally important to save what is left.
While koalas can be seen at many zoos, don’t you think it would be very sad if none were left in the wild? This may happen if their habitat is allowed to be destroyed at the present rate.
Bonus. What about Cats?
1. On average, cats spend two-thirds of their lives sleeping. So, a 9-year-old cat spent only 3 years of its life awake.
2. It turns out that a cat’s brain is biologically closer to our brain than a dog’s. We have the same parts of the brain responsible for emotions.
3. The biggest cat today is a liger. It can be up to 13 feet long and can weigh over 660 lb. The biggest liger today weighs 992 lb.
4. The smallest wild cat today is a black-footed cat. Females are 19 in long and can weigh just 2.6 lb.
5. The British and Australians believe that meeting a black cat brings good luck, whereas in Europe and North America, it is considered to be a bad sign.
6. The most popular cat breed today is the Persian cat. The next most popular is the Maine Coon and the Siamese.
7. There is a breed of cats that love water. It’s the Turkish Van. They love swimming because of their waterproof fur.
8. In the embassy of the Netherlands in Moscow, the employees noticed that 2 Siamese cats came to the building regularly and scratched the walls. It turned out that there were microphones of Russian spies hidden in the walls.
9. Many cats can find their way home despite long distances. According to experts, cats either understand where they are by the sunlight angle or they have magnetized cells in the brain that work like a compass.
10. The oldest cat in the world was Crème Puff from Austin, Texas that lived from 1967 to August 5, 2005, and died 3 days after its 38th birthday.
11. Cats can be distinguished just like people by their fingerprints, except instead of their fingers, it’s their noses.
12. Cats don’t have sweat glands all over their body like people. So, they sweat only through their paws.
13. Cats are very sensitive to vibration. They can sense an earthquake 10-15 minutes before people can.
14. Female cats are usually right-handed and male cats are left-handed.
15. Cat owners have a 30% lower risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
16. It was believed that the first domestic cats appeared in Egypt but a discovery made in 1936 proved this idea wrong. In Cyprus, in a 9,500-year-old grave, there was a mummy of a kitten: it was killed to be buried together with the owner. This precedes the mentions of cats in Egyptian art by more than 4,000 years.
17. According to a Jewish legend, Noah prayed to God asking to protect the food on the Ark from rats. God made a lion sneeze and this was how a cat appeared.
It turns out that there is a special method of getting rid of a bad mood and many diseases. It’s called Feline-assisted therapy or treatment with cats. According to medical studies, cats can treat people in different ways:
- With sound: when a cat purrs, it makes a vibration from 16 to 44 Hz; this is a perfect frequency that stimulates the protective systems of the body and makes the immune system stronger;
- With heat: a cat’s body is usually a couple degrees higher than a human’s, so cats have a warming and an anti-inflammatory effect.
- With their magnetic field (animal energy: this way, a cat can relax you, improve your mood, neutralize stress, and treat depression.)